I love a good story, be it through advertisements, movies or an entrepreneur who dared to think differently. I believe in bringing in fresh perspectives -- to a corporate profile or a Facebook post -- like new wine in an even newer bottle. I graduated with a journalism degree from the Xavier Institute of Communications. My weekend rituals involve watching Bollywood movies and reading up on style trends.
Radhika Piramal, MD, VIP Industries with Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan
In a bid to cater to a wider audience and increase its sales, Skybags from VIP Industries on Friday rolled out its 2016 collection of backpacks. “We wanted a wide range of over 100 designs, which will let every individual express their personality. From chic midnight blue or sporty red or vibrant yellow, block colours or print, the new collection has it all. The aim was to be young, dynamic and expressive,” Radhika Piramal, MD, VIP Industries, told Forbes India on the sidelines of the event to unveil the new collection in Mumbai.
The brand roped in Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan as its ambassador last year (it was earlier endorsed by actor John Abraham). “Varun’s personality syncs seamlessly with the new collection which is not just high on style, but also high on features,” says Sudip Ghose, vice president – marketing, VIP Industries. The Tri-Tech series is equipped with features like water-proof raincover, aer-zone back comfort and 12 month worldwide warranty. Priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000, the target group for this collection is people between 15 and 35 years of age.
“We sold 1 million backpacks last year and I believe that makes us the largest backpack brand in India,” says Piramal. She claims the company has been doubling its sales every year and hopes to get another 50-70 percent growth in this segment by the end of 2016.
The new collection will be available across the 200 company-owned stores across India apart from multi-brand outlets, modern retail and ecommerce platforms. “VIP Industries also opens about 25 new stores every year, so we are looking at new malls in newer cities for expansion,” says Piramal.
Despite the demand environment not being very buoyant in India, Piramal says their overall sales grew by 15 percent last year while the overall market share stands at 50 percent. She credits this growth to the launch of brands like Caprese and Skybags, which have taken the group from average to double-digit growth.
“We are transforming our company from being just a luggage company to being a lifestyle brand,” says Piramal. Apart from its flagship brand VIP, the company also has brands like Carlton, Skybags, Caprese, Alfa and Aristocrat.
Caprese (women’s handbags) and Skybags are the fastest growing verticals within the group. Piramal believes that both the categories are a much larger market than luggage because people will buy backpacks once a year; handbags are more of an impulsive, discretionary purchase, 2-3 times a year. These markets are very big and we are bringing in branded goods in them. That’s going to help us increase our company turnover and sales growth,” she says.